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I'm afraid you're about to do something the hard way, so forgive me if
I misunderstood you. Here is what you probably should do (and what I
meant earlier):



local subs = {
a = "α",
b = "β"

local function mysubs(lines)
  for i,v in pairs(subs) do
    lines = string.gsub(lines, i, v);
  return lines;

file = io.stdin:read("*all");

file = string.gsub(file, "localgreek(%b{})", function(lines)
     return "localgreek"..mysubs(lines);




Sorry, I was not precise enough, and thanks for your hints. What you suggest is exactly what I have (so I feel very proud). I need to iterate four times because the subs need to be appied in a certain order: some characters are the equivalent of four tokens, e.g., the sequence >~h| translates to character 1x1FC7. Some consist of three tokens (>~h ==> 1x1FC6), some of two, some of one. Now I found this sentence in one of the tutorials: "Note, there is no guarantee as to the order in which keys will be stored in a table when using dictionaries so the order of retrieval of keys using pairs() is not guaranteed." That's why I think I need four iterations. Or am I off- track here?